TovH’s Best of 2014: JAG, YourLogicIsFlushed, Jack Bauer & MoshOff
The Toilet ov Hell’s writers are running down their favorite releases of 2014. Today JAG, YourLogicIsFlushed, Jack Bauer, and MoshOff are sharing their top 10 lists. Let’s publicly mock them together:
10. Vainaja – Kadotetut
9. Pink Floyd – The Endless River
…relaxing and ambient.
8. Allen / Lande – The Great Divide
…great vocals. Mostly decent songs.
7. Nidsang – Into the Womb of Dissolving Flames
…thanks to Simon Phoenix for turning me on to this. I don’t have a lot of room in my current musical diet for this type of music so it has to really do something for me to make JAG’s cut.
6. Sabaton – Heroes
…it’s Sabaton. Who the hell doesn’t love Sabaton?
5. Evergrey – Hymns for the Broken
…took a few spins but the songs stayed with me. Classic Evergrey.
4. Opeth – Pale Communion
…far more engaging and interesting to me than the death-vox Opeth. Also this is probably the best mix/mastered engineered album I’ve heard this year. (Wintersun’s Time I from 2012 also sounded glorious, from a production standpoint, to me.) Sick licks all over this album as well.
3. Sanctuary – The Year the Sun Died
Great album. No, it doesn’t sound like 1987’s Refuge Denied (and I had that cassette when it was current so STFU) but it’s far better than Into the Mirror Black was.
2. Nightingale – Retribution (EU ’14 NA ’15)
It’s not White Darkness but it’s still awesome. Expect no less than amazing from Dan Swanö.
1. Unisonic – The Light of Dawn
The songwriting on this album is second to none. Michael Kiske and Kai Hansen have far out-Helloweened their old band. Greatest thing I’ve heard this year. Nightingale’s Retribution was a very close second.
Iron Reagan – The Tyranny of Will
Threshold – For the Journey
Primal Fear – Delivering the Black
In no particular order (besides alphabetical):
A Sense of Gravity – Travail – If you listen to one album on my list, please make it this one.
Agalloch – The Serpent & the Sphere – Needs no explanation.
Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars – The high points in the album are too high to ignore.
Destrage – Are You Kidding Me? No. – Like a box of chocolates without coconut, fuck coconut.
Future Islands – Singles – I never thought I would put a synth-pop band in my top ten…
Haken – Restoration EP – This shit just makes me happy.
Kayo Dot – Coffins on Io – Who doesn’t love 80’s future noir?
Lazer/Wulf – The Beast of Left and Right – I don’t know how they do what they do.
Son of Aurelius – Under a Western Sun – Along with A Sense of Gravity, they are making some of the best prog metal right now.
Thank You Scientist – Maps of Non-Existent Places – Coheed’s better evil twin.
Allegaeon – Elements of the Infinite
Falls of Rauros – Believe in No Coming Shore
YOB – Clearing the Path to Ascend
10. Job for a Cowboy – Sun Eater: This is another case of dat bass. It’s also a case of a band completely reinvigorating their sound and doing a damn fine job of it. Check out the review I wrote for more.
9. Fallujah – The Flesh Prevails: It took me a while to really enjoy this one as much as I do now, and I was still more biased toward Harvest Wombs for most of the year, but when this album finally clicks, it fucking clicks.
8. Revocation – Deathless: These guys release great material on a regular basis. Usually said material is better than most other bands. So me saying that this is their best album yet says a lot more than it normally would.
7. Misery Index – The Killing Gods: What can I say? This album is awesome. It has a kind of precise brutality to it that no other albums this year have. It never fails to get me banging my head.
6. Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars: This band is something special. They take elements from almost every genre of metal and twist them into something that is completely their own. This is one of those albums that wows me every time.
5. Beyond Creation – Earthborn Evolution: The songs these dudes write are just incredible, and the bass; oh man, the bass! Eargasms for days!
4. Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation: This one came out of nowhere. No one expected it and yet here it is, one of the best skronky tech death albums in years.
3. Archspire – The Lucid Collective: You guys all know how much I love this one, no explanation necessary. ARCHSPIRE!
2. Allegaeon– Elements of the Infinite: This album is just awesome. From the solos to the riffs. everything is spectacular. I love how Allegaeon has their own sound and they don’t try to sound like anyone else. They are fun as fuck live too!
1. Bloodshot Dawn – Demons: This is just the perfect combination of technical death metal and melodeath. I gave Demons high praise in my review earlier this year.
NYN – Eventuality
Destrage – Are You Kidding Me No?
Aborted – The Necrotic Manifesto
10. Crowbar – Symmetry in Black: (Mixed by Josh Wilbur, Mastered by Zeuss) Further proof that riffmaster Kirk Windstein might just never run out of good ideas, Symmetry in Black is a textured slab of sludgy goodness that hits the spot exactly where it needs to. Sure, if you don’t like Crowbar this album is probably not going to change your mind (meaty, raspy vocals and southern fried guitars thoroughly permeate everything to be found here), but it’s a slight tweak of a formula that just works really well.
9. Soen – Tellurian: (Mixed by David Bottrill, Mastered by Adam Ayan) One of my two favorite Uruguayan Swedes, Martin Lopez, is back with a (not so violent) vengeance. This piece of proggy goodness has filled the Opeth shaped hole in my heart, unlike the outfit’s first effort,which relied a little too heavily on Tool worship. Not that there isn’t any of that going on this time around, but I think it’s better balanced. Excellent musicianship, great atmosphere andsongs that prove that melodic progressive metal can be interesting *coughthecontortionistcough*.
8. Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown: (Mixed by Kurt Ballou, Mastered by Alan Douches)For some reason I’d always put off checking out ETID, but when I was in the States this summer I heard a couple songs from From Parts Unknown on the radio and loved them. Boasting riffs that put most math, hardcore, thrash and sludge bands to shame, this album does its best to pummel the listener with relatively short songs that are constantly switching feel. Love Keith Buckley’s vocals or hate them, the man is a unique vocalist and frontman for sure. From Parts Unknown is a testament to the fact that Every Time I Die deserve a spot in the pantheon of metal as the rightful pioneers of “chaotic metalcore” (whatever that means).
7. Revocation – Deathless: (Mixed by Zeuss, Mastered by Alan Douches) Revocation seem to be on a mission to release something every year, and you would think that Dave Davidson and Co. would start running out of ideas right about now. Instead, Revocation have released their finest effort since at least 2011’s Chaos of Forms (I’m of the opinion that last year’s Revocation was good but not amazing); Redundant Dave (TM) continues to write catchy, fun thrash and melt faces hand in hand with co-shredder Dan Gargiulo, and more melodic-ish vocals make for a good addition to their sound. Also, Phil Dubois needs to take something to calm down, damn. I don’t really mean that though, play faster!.
6. Steel Panther – All You Can Eat: (Mixed by Jay Ruston, Mastered by Paul Logus) This is an album about which I would say “This is a really good album with well written songs and really funny lyrics.” Steel Panther continue to top themselves with every release, and I love each one more than the last.
5. Epica – The Quantum Enigma: (Mixed by Jacob Hansen, Mastered by Darius Van Helfteren) If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be including a friggin’ Epica album in my top 10 for this year I would have told you to stop doing LSD and get out of the way because I’m watching TV, Greg. I don’t really remember why I decided to check this album out, but I’m really glad I did. Apparently the most recent trend in symphonic metal is aping djent, and both genres actually work extremely well together. Very major props to everyone involved in the recording/mixing of this album; balancing bass, guitars, drums, keys and vocals is hard enough, let alone a full-sized choir and string section, all of it perfectly audible at every moment (also the bass tone on this thing is just WOW). If you’ve ever been on the fence about symphonic type stuff, I strongly recommend checking this album out.
4. Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed: (Mixed and Mastered by Josh Wilbur) When word came to town that Max Cavalera, Greg Puciato and Troy Sanders were starting a supergroup, I immediately thought “NO WAAAAAAAY,” and half a second later, “it probably won’t be that good.” Lo and behold, the result is a record better (in my opinion) than both this year’s Cavalera Conspiracy and Mastodon albums (but not better than the latest Dillinger Escape Plan because duh). This album is chock-full-of both catchy hooks and hardcore-ish mosh-inducing riffs. My only complaint (and the reason why this album isn’t higher on my list) is that I wish someone would have kept Max from singing as much as he did, but it’s still a really good album all in all.
3. Sanctuary – The Year the Sun Died: (Mixed and Mastered by Zeuss) When I heard that Sanctuary were releasing their first album in more than 20 years, I prepared myself to be thoroughly disappointed: Into the Mirror Black holds a very special place in my heart, as do several Nevermore albums. I was worried that a post-Nevermore Sanctuary record would be a half-assed blend of both bands that wouldn’t work, but boy was I wrong. The most important thing is that the music sounds distinctly Sanctuary-like, but slightly revamped and with updated production (not unlike Carcass’ last album). Sure, the songs are a bit slower and tuned lower, and Warrel Dane doesn’t sound exactly like he used to, but so what? Lenny Rutledge’s playing and riffing style hasn’t aged a day, and the essence of what made Sanctuary great is still present here in spades. Your move, Jeff Loomis.
2. Gridlink – Longhena: (Mixed and Mastered by Kevin Antreassian) Because this album is so brief, I’m going to keep this short and sweet. If you thought you “knew” grindcore, think again. Food for thought: in a time when bands are tuning lower and lower, Gridlink have proven everyone wrong by playing higher and making one of the most interesting extreme metal albums of the year.
1. Misery Index – The Killing Gods: (Mixed by Steve Wright, Mastered by Tony Eichler) In all honesty, this pick is kinda biased because I’m a big Misery Index fan. Nevertheless, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it is: catchier than the plague, really heavy, and technical in all the right places. MI have really stepped up their songwriting game this time around: the songs are more diverse than they ever were, and more importantly, they don’t feel like they’re put together at random (John Gallagher, start taking notes if for some reason you didn’t start 10 years ago). The amazing writing team that Mark Kloeppel and Jason Netherton make continues to produce some of the best lyrics (“In this dead tradition/Servility and guilt/Bind us all together/In this ever-present filth/Everything is art/And nothing ever dies/In this neo-fascist paradise”) and riffs in death metal. MAN, does this album has groove to make the dead move. If you think you don’t like anything that resembles a breakdown, I’d beg you to listen to The Killing Gods and reconsider. Also Adam Jarvis is probably of the same alien breed as Phil from Revocation, they should really sign up for yoga class together.